10 Foreign Fighters Who Helped America Win Its Independence

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10 Foreign Fighters Who Helped America Win Its Independence



The American Revolution was about more than just America. It was a worldwide event. America did not fight alone. They got help from every part of the globe.

And we don’t just mean Marquis de Lafayette and Casimir Pulaski. Countless soldiers from all over the world stood up and fought with America, and without them, the United States never would have won its independence.


10Crispus Attucks
The Slave Who Was The First Casualty Of War


Photo credit: Wikimedia

The first man to fight and die in the War of Independence was born in America, but most of his fellow Americans didn’t think of him as a countryman. His name was Crispus Attucks, and he was a runaway African slave.

Attucks was working as a sailor, even though there was a price on his head. His master wanted him back, and he was willing to pay anyone who would drag him back into slavery. Nobody tried it, and if someone had, the American Revolution might never have happened.

Attucks and his fellow seamen were in a pub when a British soldier walked in. Attucks and his friends didn’t take kindly to the British presence, and they started taunting the soldier. Staring down a hulking 6’3″ man, the soldier got nervous. Seven of his friends, other British soldiers, rushed in to help. In short time, things got out of hand, and the British opened fire.

Attucks fought back. He grabbed a soldier’s bayonet and knocked him over, but the British gunned him down before he could do any more. Four other men in that bar would die before the massacre was over.

History has debated whether Attucks was a hero or just a violent drunk, but it can’t deny his impact. He was the first to die in the Boston Massacre, a moment that would spark the American Revolution.

9Von Steuben
The Prussian Who Trained The American Army


Photo credit: Wikimedia

The Americans who fought for Independence weren’t all seasoned veterans. Before Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben came in from Prussia, they were using bayonets to skewer meat more often than they were using them to skewer their enemies.

Von Steuben crossed the ocean to teach the Americans how to fight. He was the Inspector General of the American Army, in charge of drilling the soldiers and organizing their training, and he barely spoke a word of English. Von Steuben would bark at people in Prussian, his secretary would translate it into French, and then another secretary would translate that into English.

It was complicated, but it worked. He taught the American army how to fight and how to use bayonets, and that made a huge difference in the war.

In 1779, General Wayne used Von Steuben’s lessons to take Stony Brook. He and his men took a fort protected by 750 men without firing a single shot. They won the battle entirely with bayonets. Without filling the night with the sound gunfire, they were able to launch a sneak attack the British didn’t expect. Thanks to Von Steuben, Stony Brook was taken.


8Tadeusz Kosciuszko
The Polish War Hero Who Tried To Free The Slaves


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Tadeusz Kosciuszko was one of the chief engineers for the US Army. He planned the defensive strategy in Saratoga, a moment that turned the war in America’s favor. He built the military fort at West Point, which, today, is the site of the US Military Academy.

The real story for Kosciuszko, though, happened after he died. He became close friends with Thomas Jefferson, and when he died, he trusted the president to carry out his final wishes. Every penny he had, he said, should be used to free and educate African slaves.

Thomas Jefferson was almost 75 years old, so he passed the job on to someone else. That man didn’t want the responsibility of trying to get white people to educate black people, though, and he passed it on, too. Eventually, Col. George Bomford was put in charge of it, and he decided to blow the money on himself instead.

By the time Col. Bomford died, only $5,680 of Kosciuszko’s $43,504 was left. His will made it into the hands of the Supreme Court, and they just threw it out. Despite his wishes, not a single penny was put toward freeing slaves.

7De Galvez
The Spanish Governor Who Secretly Supplied The American Army


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Bernardo de Galvez was the governor of Louisiana, which, at the time, was a Spanish colony. He wasn’t exactly invested in the cause of democracy, but he was deeply involved in the cause of messing with England.

And so, when America went to war with England, he started sending them everything he could. He promised them all the weapons and medicine he could get them, warning them, “It must appear that I am ignorant of it all.”

Spain entered the war in earnest in 1779, and De Galvez didn’t have to hide it anymore. He could fight, and he did. Within a year, he’d chased the British out of Mobile, Alabama. The year after that, he chased them out of Florida.

6Moses Hazen
The Man Who Led A Canadian Regiment For America


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Canada was a British colony during the Revolutionary War. They were, quite directly, America’s enemies, which makes it surprising that some of them fought alongside America. The Americans sent out political tracts and messengers to try to get Canadians to switch sides, and some of them did. A ragtag group of Canadians, most of them French, joined the American army.

The American army had two Canadian Regiments. The first group of turncoats, appropriately enough, was commanded by Benedict Arnold. They tried and failed to take over Quebec and then spent the rest of the war stationed in New York.

The Second Canadian Regiment, commanded by Moses Hazen, was a bit more successful. Hazen was a Canadian himself, and he led his army through some of the most important battles in the war. That included the Siege of Yorktown, the battle that ended the war.

When the war ended, Moses Hazen and the Canadians who fought with him no longer had the option to return home. They had to give up everything they’d known to fight for American Independence and had to live, from then on, in the United States.



5Antonio Barcelo
The Spaniard Who Fought The Biggest Battle Of The War


Photo credit: Wikimedia

We usually think of the American Revolution as a war on American soil, but it was more than that. The Spanish and the French took the fight straight to the English. In fact, the biggest and longest battle of the whole war took place in Europe.

It was on Gibraltar, a tiny, 3-square-mile island that happened to be in an important strategic location. On June 24, 1779, a fleet of French and Spanish ships tried to take it, and they kept trying for more than three years.

Their best attack was the brainchild of Antonio Barcelo. He set up a fleet of small ships loaded with cannons called “floating batteries” and sent them against the British. It didn’t work. The British held them off, but it was the closest they got.

The siege didn’t end until the peace treaty was signed. Antonio Barcelo and his men failed, but even if it was a waste, 3,000 Spanish soldiers gave their life fighting in Gibraltar.

The Dutchman Who Led A Guerrilla Army


Photo credit: Donna White

In its early years, there were a lot of Dutch settlers in the United States. They had their own community, one that seemed separate from the rest of America, and when the Revolutionary War started, that let them do things the Americans couldn’t.

After the British took New Jersey, John Mauritius Goetschius formed a guerrilla militia of Dutch farmers and struck back. They would attack and raid the British under the cover of night, and then, when morning came, pretended to be nothing more than farmers.

They might have been farmers, but they were capable of a lot more than they seemed. That became clear when, in 1781, Washington sent his army to take Fort Lee from the Loyalists. By the time the American troops had made it to their destination, the Loyalists were gone. Goetschius and his Dutch guerrillas had already taken the fort on their own.

The Native Chief Who Fought For The Us


Photo credit: Allison Giles

No one could be more American than the Native Americans, but they weren’t treated that way. They played a role in American Revolution, though, and it’s one that’s often overlooked.

Most, if they picked a side, went with the British. That only makes sense: Part of the reason the Americans wanted independence was so that they could move into native land.

The Oneida tribe, though, refused to believe that the Americans had any intention of hurting them. Their main contact with Europeans had been through a missionary named Rev. Samuel Kirkland, and he had been good to them. And so, when they knew that Kirkland’s people needed their help, they raised up their arms and fought alongside them.

The Oneida tribe worked as guides, harassed British sentries, and even joined some of the battles. They were good at it, too. In the Battle of Oriskany, their War Chief Tewahangarahken single-handedly took out nine British soldiers.

Despite that, they still had to struggle to convince America they were on their side. At one point, they sent them six prisoners from another tribe and a rescued American soldier. The Americans had asked for scalps instead, but they sent along a letter that apologetically explained, “We do not take scalps.” They ended it, “We hope you are now convinced of our friendship toward you and your great cause.”

The French General Who Made The British Surrender


Photo credit: Wikimedia

The decisive battle of the American Revolution came when George Washington led a troop of American soldiers into battle against the British at Yorktown. Washington, though, was not alone. He was joined by an even bigger army of French soldiers and ships, led by Comte de Rochambeau.

The Siege of Yorktown ended in the British surrender. Lord Cornwallis was the leader of the English soldiers there, but he refused to stand in front of his enemy and surrender—instead, he sent his deputy, Brigadier General Charles O’Hara.

O’Hara offered the sword of surrender to Rochambeau, but Rochambeau refused it. This, he believed, was America’s war. He insisted that the English surrender to George Washington instead.

Washington, too, refused the sword. He made O’Hara surrender to his second-in-command, Benjamin Lincoln. Lincoln had been overwhelmed by the British in Charleston and was denied the honors of a proper surrender. Washington wanted to see he got to experience one firsthand.

1Hyder Ali
The Indian Sultan Who Fought The British


Photo credit: Wikimedia

The last battle of the American Revolution wasn’t on American soil. It was in India. In the 18th century, communication was far from instant, and so the men fighting on the other side of the world had no idea it was over.

India had been a battleground for the American Revolution for the last five years of the war. When France declared war on England, the British East India Company started attacking their colonies there. Hyder Ali, the Sultan of Mysore in India, took the side of the French and led the fighting there.

When Hyder Ali died in 1783, the British started making serious advances on French India. They moved their forces to Cuddalore, a city on the Bay of Bengal, and very nearly took it. The French, however, managed to send a fleet in time to fight them off.

That French fleet kept the battle going. An army of French and Mysorean soldiers fought across India, struggling to hold back the British. Then, on June 29, 1783, word finally came in that the war had been over for eight months. The last fighters of the American Revolution put down their arms and went home, a whole world away from the country they had liberated.


10 Hot Spots Where Global Conflict Could Erupt

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10 Hot Spots Where Global Conflict Could Erupt



As we have learned from the previous two World Wars, global conflict can begin in unlikely places. For better or worse, it has become all too clear that our modern global political orientation has made the fate of every nation more linked to the fate of other nations than ever before.

Thus, in order to secure their own power, nations such as the United States, China, and Russia continue to maintain a presence in some key strategic areas, often butting heads with one another. Tensions in these areas, as well as others, are high, and some believe that these could be the places where World War III breaks out.




Photo credit: cfr.org

As most are aware, Syria is currently in the midst of an ugly civil war. The conflict began in 2011 when protests against Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and his crackdown on civil liberties escalated into a full-blown rebellion.

Russia and Iran have backed the Assad regime while the United States has supported the antigovernment rebel forces. The war has now been raging for more than five years with little headway being made on either side.

It has, however, created a massive humanitarian crisis due to the hundreds of civilians (men, women, and children) being killed every month. As a result, Syrian refugees are fleeing by the thousands to escape the bloody conflict, creating a refugee crisis which has strained several nations.

The situation is further complicated by the presence of the Islamic State, which has gained territory in Syria. US President Donald Trump has vowed to implement safe zones in Syria, which may include a no-fly zone.

If this no-fly zone were to be implemented, Trump may give US forces the authority to shoot down Russian planes that enter the zone. This could easily escalate the conflict to a global scale, possibly even World War III.



Since its founding in 1948, Israel has had no shortage of enemies. The small Jewish state located between Egypt and Jordan on the Mediterranean Sea is surrounded by a number of Arab Muslim nations, many of which harbor resentment toward Israel for a number of reasons.

Many Arab nations contend that Israel has no right to the territory it is on. Other Arab nations have based their hatred in their theological differences. The result is that Israel has had to fight its neighbors a number of times.

In recent years, Iran, one of Israel’s oldest enemies, has taken steps to obtain nuclear capabilities and possibly nuclear weapons (despite the deal). If Iran obtained nuclear weapons, this would immediately threaten the national security of Israel.

In response, Israel might attack Iran first. If this happened or if Iran launched an attack on Israel, it is highly likely that a war would break out in which the United States and other nations would become involved.


8The Persian Gulf


The Persian Gulf has recently become a hot spot of global tension. The Iranian navy has been conducting a series of provocative maneuvers around a number of US warships in the Gulf. In some cases, the US Navy has gone so far as to fire warning shots at the Iranian vessels.

According to some top officials, these actions are part of an intentional effort by the Iranians to heighten tensions in response to frustrations they feel over the ongoing sanctions placed upon them by the US and others. One US naval commander said, “This kind of provocative, harassing technique risks escalation and miscalculation.”

Tensions have only grown since the election of Donald Trump, who has talked of scrapping the Iran deal, and the testing a new ballistic missile by Iran. President Trump has contended that military action is an option that he could use. The Persian Gulf remains a dangerous place where global conflict could erupt.



Photo credit: sputniknews.com

Kashmir is the northernmost region of India. However, Kashmir is predominantly Muslim and many within the area contend that they should be a part of the majority Muslim nation of Pakistan instead of India.

The region has become highly contested with an active separatist movement fighting against Indian control. Several terrorist groups have also become active in Kashmir and have frequently attacked the Indian government.

In response, India has ramped up security forces in the area. At times, Pakistan has harbored and possibly even supported many of these terrorist and separatist groups, which has inflamed the already-contentious relationship between Pakistan and India.

Border skirmishes between the two nations are not uncommon. The situation is complicated by the fact that both India and Pakistan have nuclear arsenals. It is certainly possible that war between the two countries could break out soon, starting in Kashmir.

Similarly, if a war did break out, it is possible that it could escalate to a nuclear level. This would demand attention from global powers such as the United States and China.

6The Korean Peninsula


Photo credit: i24news.tv

The Korean Peninsula has drawn lots of attention from the international community due to the unpredictable and aggressive nature of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un. On numerous occasions, North Korea has threatened war with South Korea and the United States.

The United States and South Korea have responded to these threats by keeping a strong military presence in the area on standby. However, things could easily escalate should North Korea continue on its path to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile which could reach the United States.

If North Korea had this capability, they would hypothetically be able to launch a nuclear strike at the United States. There are some who contend that this very real and possible threat to the US would force them into action and, if need be, war.

Similarly, recently appointed US Defense Secretary James Mattis has stated that any attack by North Korea on Japan or South Korea would also incur the full wrath of the US military. However, under the tyrannical rule of the irrational Kim Jong Un, we cannot rule out anything and there remains a high risk that the Korean Peninsula could become the site of the next major global conflict.


5The South China Sea


Photo credit: The Guardian

The South China Sea is currently one of the most hotly contested regions in the world. Tensions have arisen over China’s claim that it has “irrefutable” sovereignty over a number of disputed islands and the seas surrounding them in the South China Sea. A number of other nations—including Vietnam, Japan, and Taiwan—have claimed that this is not the case.

The South China Sea is strategically valuable due to its rich natural resources and the military advantage provided by its islands. The situation has only become tenser as China has built a number of man-made islands in the area and an airbase on one of the preexisting islands.

Similarly, the Chinese have also deployed their first aircraft carrier to patrol the area. These territorial claims have not gone unchallenged, however, as the United States has maintained a strong military presence in the South China Sea as well.

Some in Washington have made calls for military action if Chinese expansion in the region continues. It would seem that if a war were to break out between China and the United States, immersing the world in what likely would be the next world war, it would begin in the South China Sea.



Photo credit: BBC

Another point of major contention between the US and China, the two most powerful nations in the world, is Taiwan. Since China’s civil war in the 1940s, Taiwan has been home to the exiled Chinese Nationalist government. Although for all intents and purposes Taiwan functions as an independent nation, it is technically still under the control of the Chinese.

The possibility that China may try to reclaim this rogue territory by force has always been present and has created an atmosphere of incredible tension. The stakes were raised when the United States signed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, which brought Taiwan under America’s veil of protection.

However, this has not stopped the Chinese from exercising their power in the area. They have conducted a number of naval and air operations quite close to Taiwan. Especially with the recent election of Donald Trump and his contact with Taiwan (a violation of the “One China” policy), China will be looking to test the resolve of the new US leader.

It goes without saying that any move made by China on Taiwan would lead to certain global conflict between the Chinese and the Americans, the likes of which the world has never seen. Yet it remains a potential reality that both sides continue to prepare for.



Photo credit: Foreign Policy

According to Dr. Paul Miller, a national defense expert who predicted the annexation of Crimea, the path to World War III begins in, of all places, Latvia. For those who don’t know, Latvia is one of the Baltic states of Northern Europe bordering Russia to the east and the Baltic Sea to the west.

Miller claims that Putin, after successfully annexing Crimea with relatively little international pushback, has set his sights on Latvia as his next target and will make an aggressive move within the next two years. Miller contends that it will not be a conventional invasion, however.

He believes that Putin will instigate civil unrest among the large number of ethnic Russian Latvians and support them with arms and training. Then, once the fighting and unrest is underway, Putin will step in under the guise ofprotecting the ethnic Russians in the area.

According to Miller, one of two things will happen from there. In scenario one, the NATO nations will back down and refuse to come to the defense of Latvia. In this case, NATO will be rendered useless and Russia will continue its expansion into Europe.

In scenario two, the United States, as a member of NATO, will come to Latvia’s aid and engage Russia with the assistance of other NATO nations. This very likely would be the beginning of World War III. The international community would be wise to keep its eye on Latvia.

2The Suwalki Gap


Photo credit: tembisan.co.za

If Russia were to attack Europe, its first move would be to capture the Suwalki Gap. The Suwalki Gap is a 100-kilometer (60 mi) stretch of narrow land in northwest Poland running along the border with Lithuania.

It is a prime target for Russian aggression because it also connects the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad and the Russian ally Belarus. The Russians have a strong military presence in both regions and could quickly deploy forces into the gap.

If this occurred, the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia) would be cut off from their NATO allies and would be surrounded by Russian forces. One of the top US generals in Europe admits that the possibility of the Russians capturing the strategically valuable gap keeps him up at night.

Apparently, the Pentagon shares the general’s fears as it has decided to quadruple its budget for European defense. The buildup of military forces on all sides of the gap, as well as the high number of training operations, makes the area quite dangerous. If a conflict between the West and Russia breaks out, it will likely begin with the Suwalki Gap.



With the ever-evolving nature of technology, the ways we wage war must also change. In our modern world, it has become a distinct possibility that the next global war could begin in cyberspace.

Power plants, satellites, financial markets, military communications, and countless other things essential to our everyday lives rely on the Internet. Therefore, they can all be infiltrated. We have already seen cyberwarfare take place with the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee, the use of the virus Stuxnet against Iran, and numerous other instances.

The United States, Russia, and China are all continuing to develop their cyber capabilities and defenses. Just what this will look like remains unclear. What is clear, however, is that cyberwarfare will be a key aspect of any major global conflict to come. It is also the quickest way to attack another nation or group and, therefore, would most likely be the first move in any major offensive campaign.

The political and economic fallout of a successful cyberattack could be truly disastrous and could be the precursor to a large-scale conventional war. The realm of cyberspace and the reality of cyberwarfare should be taken very seriously.

Brad is currently a student studying at Fordham University. He can be reached for questions or comments at bsylvester3@fordham.edu.

10 Facts About The Kamikaze You Probably Didn’t Know

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10 Facts About The Kamikaze You Probably Didn’t Know

A. C. LU FEBRUARY 5, 2017


Kamikaze suicide attacks were one of the most frightful tactics of the Pacific theater during World War II. Named after the divine wind of a hurricane that repelled Mongol invaders in Japan’s ancient past, these planes and pilots are often thought of as nothing more than fanatics, brainwashed into giving their lives, but the truth is more nuanced. These pilots were as human as any and often battled between loyalty and their fear of death. The details of the Kamikaze attacks are a history lesson that we should not forget.

10The First Kamikaze Attack Was Not Planned


Photo credit: AP

During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941, 28-year-old Lieutenant Fusata Iida was hit. His plane, a Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero, had sustained heavy damage, and he signaled the rest of his air group to go on without him. He pointed to the ground, indicating his intention to crash his plane at a suitable target. He targeted Hanger 101, the base’s primary hanger, which he intended to ram in a suicide run. American ground fire ripped his plane apart and instead of hitting the hanger his plane overshot and crashed.

Fusata Iida is widely considered the first Kamikaze, though that was not his intention setting out. His body was buried by Americans at the Heleloa burial area, and a memorial now marks the site of his crash. His remains have since been returned to Japan.


9The First Planned Kamikazes Weren’t Until Three Years Later


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Conventional naval and aerial tactics failed to stop the American offensive after Pearl Harbor. This desperate situation led to a new tactic. Japanese naval Captain Motoharu Okamura said of the matter, “I firmly believe that the only way to swing the war in our favor is to resort to crash-dive attacks with our planes . . . There will be more than enough volunteers for this chance to save our country.”

The first wave of Kamikazes were made up of 24 volunteer pilots from Japan’s 201st Air Group. They specifically target US escort carriers. The St. Lowas one such carrier that was struck and sunk in less than one hour, killing 100 Americans.

8Battle Of Okinawa’s Heavy Loses


Photo credit: US Navy

The Battle of Okinawa was an intense 82-day campaign involving more than 287,000 US and 130,000 Japanese troops. It was considered the bloodiest battle of the Pacific Theater, and more than 90,000 men died from both sides, along with almost 100,000 civilian casualties. During this conflict, Kamikazes inflicted the greatest damage ever sustained by the US Navy in a single battle, killing almost 5,000 men.

All told, Kamikazes sank 34 ships and damaged hundreds of others during the entire war.


7The Emperor Personally Visited Them


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Hisao Horiyama is one of the few surviving Kamikaze pilots. At the time, he was a 21-year-old airmen caught in a faltering war. Horiyama has said, “We didn’t think too much about dying. We were trained to suppress our emotions. Even if we were to die, we knew it was for a worthy cause. Dying was the ultimate fulfillment of our duty, and we were commanded not to return. We knew that if we returned alive that our superiors would be angry.

“When we graduated from army training school, the Showa emperor visited our unit on a white horse. I thought then that this was a sign that he was personally requesting our services. I knew that I had no choice but to die for him.”

As for why his duty insisted he volunteer, he added, “At that time, we believed that the emperor and nation of Japan were one and the same.” Ultimately, the war was over before Horiyama was sent into battle as a Kamikaze pilot.

6Pilots Wrote Their Family Final Letters


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Like all Kamikaze pilots, Horiyama was asked to pen a letter and will, which were to be sent to his family after his death. He said, “I was a disrespectful child and got poor grades at school. I told my father that I was sorry for being such a bad student, and for crashing three planes during training exercises. And I was sorry that the course of the war seemed to be turning against Japan. I wanted to prove myself to him, and that’s why I volunteered to join the special attack unit.

“But my mother was upset. Just before she died, she told me that she would never have forgiven my father if I had died in a kamikaze attack. So I’m grateful to the emperor that he stopped the war.”

Another such letter, written by 23-year-old Adachi Takuya to his parents before his death as a Kamikaze pilot on April 28, 1945, has been preserved in its entirety:

Honorable Mother and Father,
The difficulty of the journey you made to see me was clearly evident in your disheveled hair and in the hollows under your eyes-it made me want to bend my knees and worship before you. In the wrinkles on your brows was vivid testimony of the pains you took to raise me. Words could not express my feelings, and what little I did say was superficial in the extreme.
Yet, although acutely conscious of how little time we had, I saw in your eyes and in your gaze all you wanted to say but couldn’t.
When you took my hand and passed it over your chilblains, I experienced a sense of profound peacefulness unlike anything I have experienced since joining up -like being a baby again and longing for the warmth of a mother’s love. It is because I bask in the beauty of your deep devotion that I can martyr myself for you-for in death I will sleep in the world of your love. Washed down with my tears was the sushi you prepared with such loving care, for it was like putting your love to my lips. Though I ate but little, it was the most delicious meal of my life.
Honorable Mother, even if I was never able to fully accept the love you gave me, I received so much wisdom from you. And Father, your silent words are carved deeply into my heart. With this I will be able to fight together with you both. Even if I should die, it will be with a peaceful spirit.
I mean this with all my heart.
The war zone is where these beautiful emotions are put to the test. If death means a return to this world of love, there is no need for me to fear. There is nothing left to do but press on and fulfill my duty.
At 16oo hours our meeting was over. Watching you walk out the gate, I quietly waved goodbye.

5Not All Kamikaze Pilots Were Willing


Photo credit: japantimes.co.jp

Horiyama was disappointed he survived, feeling he failed in his duties. He said, “I felt bad that I hadn’t been able to sacrifice myself for my country. My comrades who had died would be remembered in infinite glory, but I had missed my chance to die in the same way. I felt like I had let everyone down.” But not all of his fellows felt the same.

Takehiko Ena, another surviving Kamikaze pilot, relates that when he received his assignment as a Kamikaze, “I felt the blood drain from my face. The other pilots and I congratulated each other when the order came through that we were going to attack. It sounds strange now, as there was nothing to celebrate. On the surface, we were doing it for our country. We made ourselves believe that we had been chosen to make this sacrifice. I just wanted to protect the father and mother I loved. And we were all scared.”


4Kamikazes Were Often Mechanically Unsound


Photo credit: US Navy

Takehiko Ena, who is now in his nineties, survived World War II only because of ongoing technical problems with the aging planes forced into service toward the end of the war. Many such planes had been stripped and adapted into Kamikazes. Ena’s first attempt at flying a Kamikaze ended before the plane could get airborne. His second mission also ended without success when his plane’s engine suffered from mechanical problems and forced him to make an emergency landing, still carrying the bomb meant to kill himself and the enemy.

In his third and final attempt, engine trouble forced another emergency landing, this time into the sea. Ena and two others with him survived by swimming to a nearby island and were rescued some two months later by a Japanese submarine. Soon thereafter, the war was over. Ena’s salvation came from the poor condition of the Kamikaze fleet.

3Kamikaze Pilots Were Used As Propaganda


One famous case of this was with Arima Masafumi, who served as the commander of the 26th Air Flotilla. He was described as a personable commanding officer who took the time to greet his crew every day with a “good morning” and as the “picture of dignity,” even wearing his full uniform in the topical heat.

Masafumi personally participated in a suicide attack against the US fleet off the Philippine Islands. He specifically targeted carrier Franklin but was reportedly shot down before he was able to crash into her. Despite this, a report was made from Tokyo that he had succeeded in crippling the ship and in so doing, “lit the fuse of the ardent wishes of his men.” He was posthumously promoted to the rank of vice admiral.

2Kamikaze Units Were Named From A Poem


“Tanka” is Japanese for “short poem.” One of the most famous was written by the scholar Motoori Norinaga in the Edo era. It reads:

Shikishima no
yamato-gokoro o
hito towaba
asahi ni niou

If someone inquires
about the Japanese soul
of these Blessed Isles,
say mountain cherry blossoms,
fragrant in the morning sun.

Shikishima (Islands of Japan), Yamato (A traditional name for Japan), Asahi (rising sun), and Yamazakura (mountain cherry) were the names of the first four Kamikaze units.

1Kamikaze Pilots Were Given A Manual


Photo credit: Wikimedia

They kept these manuals in their cockpit, which contained both a guide on how to handle their mission and a series of inspiring thoughts and reassurance. One paragraph explains what to do in the event of an aborted mission: “In the event of poor weather conditions when you cannot locate the target, or under other adverse circumstances, you may decide to return to base. Don’t be discouraged. Do not waste your life lightly. You should not be possessed by petty emotions. Think how you can best defend the motherland. Remember what the wing commander has told you. You should return to the base jovially and without remorse.”

The Manual also explained a Kamikaze pilot’s mission: “Transcend life and death. When you eliminate all thoughts about life and death, you will be able to totally disregard your earthly life. This will also enable you to concentrate your attention on eradicating the enemy with unwavering determination, meanwhile reinforcing your excellence in flight skills.”

And it also contained this short message: “Be always pure-hearted and cheerful. A loyal fighting man is a pure-hearted and filial son.”

10 Bizarre Martian Reports From The Past

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10 Bizarre Martian Reports From The Past



It may seem that the whole UFO craze began with the crash at Roswell, but newspapers have been talking about the possibility of aliens, specifically Martians, long before that. People in the early 1900s began speculating about contact with our neighbor planet and tried to determine how Martians might actually look, given the clues scientists had about the atmosphere and conditions of Mars. By the 1950s, belief in Martians turned to actual sightings and interactions with these beings, leaving people curious, excited, and above all, scared out of their wits.

10The Martian Message

In December 1900, a beam of light was seen coming from the planet Mars. The light was observed by the Lowell Observatory in the US, and newspapers around the world began to report on the possibility of Martian contact.

Nikola Tesla himself believed that communication with Martians was possible and dedicated 50 years of his life to the endeavor. As far as he was concerned, this particular beam of light proved that there was indeed life on Mars. Furthermore, many people felt that the beam was an invitation to join in on some “interplanetary telegraphy.”

9Intelligent Martian People

By 1906, the people of Earth were already making wild guesses as to what the people of Mars must be like. First and foremost, scientists automatically assumed that the Martians must be intelligent. Some went as far as to suggest that their intelligence far exceeded that of mere humans, owing to the fact “that we do not know how to control ourselves.”

Scientists also seemed to agree that Martians lived twice as long as humans, allowing the Martians to gather greater knowledge than those of us on Earth. Their strength, too, was reported as being greater than the lowly Earthlings. This news undoubtedly put the fear of God into a great many people whosaw Martians as a threat and not as friendly neighbors.

8Trade With Mars

Talk about getting ahead of ourselves. By 1909, there was talk of trade with the Martians, even though no contact had been directly made with them. According to one newspaper report, the Germans were already dreaming up ways that trade would be possible.

One futuristic plan for trade with the Martians involved shooting a hermetically sealed aluminum cylinder up into space and directly toward Mars. The cylinder would be filled with trade items from Earth, and of course, the Martians would have to shoot something back our way.

At the same time, there was also talk of piercing a hole directly through the Earth so that sunlight would shine through it and be seen on Mars. Then we humans would somehow Morse code the Martians by covering and uncovering the hole.


Of course, there was some wild speculation about what these Martians actually looked like. In 1912, a newspaper article reported that M. Edmond Perrier, the director of the French Botanical Society, believed that the Martians had a largely Scandinavian appearance.

According to him, the Martians were extremely tall because of the lack of gravity on their planet. They had large, blue eyes and nearly white hair. Their ears and noses would be large. For some reason, they would have no necks or waists, and their legs would be extremely thin and their feet very small.

Perrier also believed that plant life on Mars was very lush. The lack of atmosphere would allow the plants to grow freely without the weight of gravity.

6Those Pesky Canals

Mars 'Canals'

Photo credit: Percival Lowell

There was a lot of curiosity about the “canals” on Mars, as astronomers watched them almost daily in order to spot any signs of activity. In 1912, it was reported that one of the canals had doubled in width over a few weeks, further providing proof that there was intelligent life on Mars.

In 1927, a newspaper report gave details that Professor Lowell, “the greatest student of Mars who ever lived,” believed that Mars was drying up. The Martians created these intricate canals to collect water from the frozen poles and irrigate the rest of the land. In a rather romantic view, the professor believed that during this period of severe drought, “all nations on Mars would have united together for this purpose. We picture them as desperately fighting, inch by inch, a losing battle against the grim spectre of thirst.”

5Invasion Panic

The 1938 airing of The War of the Worlds on US radio stations sent a panic across the country, but in 1949, a “localized version” of the story was aired in Ecuador. The retelling of the story had the aliens landing in Cotocollao and some going straight for Quito. Listeners were scared, believing that the story was real. People hit the streets, and there was mass panic.

When they realized what was happening, the radio directors made a public announcement, assuring people that this was only a story and not an actual account. This ticked people off even more, and they went straight for the newspaper building from which the story was being broadcast. The mob began stoning the building, scaring the workers inside to the upper floors. Someone started a fire, and as the building burned, people jumped out of the windows to escape being burned to death.

Troops were sent in, along with tanks. Tear gas was used to settle the angry population. According to one newspaper report, 15 people died, and at least 15 more were injured.

4After The Roswell UFO Incident

The famous Roswell incident happened in 1947, but weird things were still happening in the state of New Mexico in 1950. In one case, a group of deer hunters discovered a metallic sphere made of duralumin. The guys thought that they had discovered a small flying saucer from Mars. Instead, it was reported from top officials that inside the sphere was something “resembling a plastic flower pot with nylon shreds, a cheap alarm clock, and three packages of the kind of film used in Atomic research.”

An official statement from Washington announced that there was absolutely nothing to worry about concerning invaders from outer space, and the Navy assured people that the sphere was probably a device they had sent into the stratosphere to research cosmic rays.

Nothing to see here, folks.

3Welcome To Australia

1954 was a busy year for our Martian neighbors. In January, “Martian saucers” were being seen all across Australia. Bored with visits to the US, they decided to start scouting out Australia. Thousands of reports were coming in about strange objects in the sky.

According to both astronomers and the Royal Australian Air Force’s Project “Saucer,” these objects could only have come from one planet: the “only one member of the solar system besides earth [that] is capable of supporting life, and that is Mars.” According to one calculation, the inhabitants of Mars were so far advanced that it would only take them four minutes to reach Earthfrom their planet.

2A Martian In France

While the Martians were buzzing overhead in Australia, one Martian decided to mess with a farmer in France in 1954.

According to the farmer’s account, he was suddenly blown across the road and left paralyzed for ten minutes. While he was unable to move or scream, two pale blue lights came down, and a strange creature with green lights on either side of its head took a look at him. After a moment, the lights went out, and the short creature wearing a tight suit went across the road and vanished. When the farmer regained use of his limbs, his legs and hands ached.

Police visited the area of the encounter and found that the ground had been disturbed, but they found no Martian footprints.

1The Scottish Encounter

Another Martian encounter happened in Scotland in 1954. This time, a British writer named Cedric Allingham “met a man from Mars.”

In Cedric’s account, a saucer landed, and a Martian jumped out and greeted him. He said that the Martian had brown hair and a tan. (Maybe from enjoying the Australian beaches?) The Martian was wearing a form-fitting suit that sort of resembled chain mail.

Somehow, the two had a conversation, and Cedric learned that interplanetary travel was quite popular among the people of Mars and Venus, which is no surprise, since there were also firsthand accounts of visits from Venusians in the 1950s.

Elizabeth spends most of her time surrounded by dusty, smelly, old books in a room she refers to as her personal nirvana. She’s been writing about strange “stuff” since 1997 and enjoys traveling to historical places.

10 Accounts Of Evil Servants That Will Terrify You

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10 Accounts Of Evil Servants That Will Terrify You



The following cases detail grizzly crimes committed long ago at the hands of trusted household servants. The majority of the sentences handed down, though harsh, were precedent in setting the dismal and merciless tone that capital punishment embodied in America and Europe.

10Bridget Durgan

Bridget Durgan

In the late 19th century, popular ideology considered servants as society’s lower class, easily susceptible to a life of crime and murder. Such a critique was bestowed upon Bridget Durgan, an Irish servant described in tabloids throughout the US as “a wild beast and fiend.”

In 1867, Durgan stabbed her employer, Mrs. Coriel, to death. Newspapers speculated that Durgan was in love with and wanted to marry Mr. Coriel, even at times taunting the victim about the scandalous and unspeakable affair the duo were having. The ultimate punishment was handed down to the “hideous criminal,” as the media so indefatigably described her. Durgan was executed that same year by the state of New Jersey.


9Sisterly Love

Christine and Lea Papin

Photo via Murderpedia

In a quiet French village in 1933, sisters Christine and Lea Papin were ideal and trusted housekeepers to their overbearing and tyrannical employer, Madame Danzard. The girls, who shared a bed in their tiny attic room, lived lonely, uneventful lives, which inexplicably morphed into an intimate, incestuous relationship. When their newfound unsisterly feelings were discovered and threatened by the extremely proper Danzard, the sistersresorted to butchery.

After seven years of esteemed service, the girls stabbed Madame Danzard to death as well as her daughter, mutilating their bodies and gouging out their eyes. They immediately confessed to their grisly crime following their arrest, and the trial ultimately became a national headline sensation. In the end, Lea was sentenced to ten years of hard labor. Christine died four years later in a mental asylum.

8Mary Wallis

In July 1870, nine-month-old Albert H. Reed was dead, poisoned at the hands of 16-year-old Mary Wallis. Wallis was a black housemaid who inexplicably became involved in a bitter feud with the infant’s nurse. In a diabolical attempt to cast an indubitable and unforgiving castigation on her nemesis, Wallis mercilessly poisoned the infant, lacing the nine-month-old’s milk with strychnine. Her fatal plot was designed to cast blame of the child’s death onto the nurse whom she despised.

Inevitably, her scheme dreadfully deteriorated, and she was sentenced to death. Her punishment was met with harsh condemnation, given her age and mental state. However, the protests fell on deaf ears when it came to the presiding judge. Wallis’s sentence was upheld, and she was hanged in the Upper Marlboro, Maryland, jail yard in February 1871.


7The ‘Barnes Mystery’

Kate Webster

In 1879, wealthy Englishwoman Julia Martha Thomas was pushed down a flight of stairs by her maid, Kate Webster. In a drunken rage, Kate proceeded to strangle Thomas, killing her. She then dismembered the remains. After scorching the mutilated body of her former employer, Kate cast a majority of the remains down the River Thames while feeding the leftovers to neighborhood children, claiming the remains to be pig lard.

The whereabouts of Thomas’s head remained a mystery until 2010, when her skull was found during an excavation of an English garden. After officially confirming the cranium was that of Julia Martha Thomas, it was determined that she had died of head trauma and asphyxiation. As for Thomas’s murderous maid, Kate was hanged for her crime at Wandsworth Prison on July 29, 1879.

6Bloodstained Screwdriver

In March 1931, a group of attorneys were waiting anxiously for the arrival of Cornelius Kahlen, a wealthy real estate owner who had scheduled the meeting to discuss his property dealings. Much to everyone’s surprise, a man burst through the doors holding a bloodstained screwdriver in his trembling hand. “Cornelius Kahlen won’t be down,” said the man. “I have just killed him.”

The body of the 75-year-old real estate mogul was found in his ritzy New York City apartment, having been stabbed 20 to 30 times. The culprit at the center of it all was Kahlen’s trusted servant, Moramarco, who was accused of having an affair with Kahlen’s elderly wife at the time of the murder. According to Moramarco, he committed the murder after he came to believe that Kahlen was planning on moving to Germany, leaving his wife and Moramarco himself destitute.

5Grace Marks

Grace Marks and James McDermott

Photo credit: Toronto Public Library via Murderpedia

On July 23, 1843, 16-year-old maid Grace Marks and stable hand James McDermott shot and killed their wealthy employer, Thomas Kinnear. Earlier that day, they’d strangled their fellow housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery. The sensationalism of the case attracted attention all over Canada, with newspapers reporting of a scandalous affair not only between the murderous servants but the victims as well. In fact, Nancy, also Kinnear’s mistress, was found to have been pregnant during her autopsy.

Following their capture, Grace Marks and James McDermott were convicted of murder and sentenced to death, with Marks’s sentence being commuted to life in prison. Prior to his hanging, McDermott expressed disdain at the unjust reprieve of Marks’s initial sentence, vehemently insisting that she was the instigator of the crime.


4A Rectory in Ireland

As night fell on the village of Balbriggan, Ireland, in May 1928, Father James McKeone anxiously awaited the return of Mary Callan, the rectory’s pretty 19-year-old housekeeper of three years. With Mary’s whereabouts still unknown the following morning and with no reason to believe she had left the vicinity of her own free will, Father McKeone alerted the town’s policeman, and a search party quickly ensued.

Weeks later, Mary’s dismembered body was found in a sewn-up sack that had been tossed in a quarry as if it were garbage. The culprit was 20-year-old Gerard Toal, a handyman and servant who worked beside Mary and lived at the rectory. Upon finding indisputable evidence in the fireplace of Toal’s room, he confessed to strangling Mary after being scolded by her for his blatant inattention to his duties. Toal’s confession afforded him no leniency, and he was subsequently sentenced to death.

3Archibald Hall

Archibald Hall

Photo via BBC News

Determined to refine everything about his character, con man and burglar Archibald Hall changed his name to Roy Fontaine, eradicated his Glaswegian accent, and studied antiquity and social etiquette. In 1977, Fontaine became a butler to Lady Margaret Hudson, only to have the prospects of his newfound life jeopardized soon after by the unexpected presence of David Wright. Wright, an ex-cellmate and former lover of Fontaine’s, was shot in the back of the head after threatening to expose Fontaine’s past.

Throughout the next year, Fontaine would go on a murderous rampage, killing various wealthy, elite employers as well as anyone who stood in his way. Upon his capture in 1978, Fontaine confessed to murdering his former lover, two employers, an accomplice, and another man and then led police to their buried remains. He was sentenced by British and Scottish courts to life imprisonment and died in 2002.

2Alice Riley

Alice Riley

Photo via the Savannah Morning News

On March 1, 1734, William Wise was found lying in his bed with his head submerged in a large pail of water. He had been strangled and drowned, becoming the first official murder in the colony of Savannah. The alibis and whereabouts of Alice Riley and Richard White, Wise’s Irish indentured servants, were unknown. The two had become lovers while under Wise’s “abusive and degenerate” rule, leading to their brash and heinous crime. Their brief romance ended upon their capture.

The pair would be sentenced to death. Alice, who was pregnant at the time of her sentencing, had her execution date postponed. Four weeks after she gave birth to a son, Alice was sent to the gallows, becoming the first woman to be executed in Georgia.

1Dinner At The Wrights’

In 1914, Julian Carlton, a black servant at the Wright household in Wisconsin, served dinner to unsuspecting guests, whom he would soon trap and murder. As the party dined, Carlton doused the dining room door in gasoline and lit a match, creating a chamber of flames. Those who tried to escape were struck down with a hatchet by Carlton.

Interestingly enough, the home of the grisliest scene in Wisconsin history belonged to one of the world’s most renowned architects, Frank Lloyd Wright, who was away on business at the time. The “Crime of the Century” came to an abrupt end with Carlton killing himself by drinking a bottle of acid prior to his arrest.

10 Facts About Ancient Egyptian Animals That Will Blow Your Mind

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10 Facts About Ancient Egyptian Animals That Will Blow Your Mind



Egypt was one of the first great civilizations on earth. They lived at the dawn of history, in a time that was very different from the world we live in today.

One of those differences was their gods. The Egyptian gods had the heads of animals. That might seem like a tiny detail, but it changed the way the lived in more ways than you might imagine. In homage to their gods, the Egyptians treated animals with a reverence that we don’t share—and that led to some truly bizarre moments that history usually leaves out.

10They Gave A Bull A Harem


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Throughout most of Egyptian history, there was always one lucky bull who got treated like a god. They called this bull “Apis,” a divine animal made flesh on Earth. They would choose one with what they believed were holy markings, bring it to the temple, and give it a treatment that human beings could only dream of.

The bull’s life was amazing. He received a harem of cow concubines to choose from and lived on a diet of cakes and honey. The Egyptians would throw parties on the bull’s birthday, and they would let him choose their oracles. They even performed sacrifices for the bull. They would bring oxen and cows in front of him and butcher them in tribute—which must have come across as a bit of a mixed message.

Human women were forbidden to touch the holy bull—except for during a fourth-month period when it would be brought to the city Nicopolis. There, the women would bare their bodies in front of the animal. Just because it was a bull, the Egyptians figured, didn’t mean it couldn’t appreciate a woman’s breasts.

When the bull died, it received a king’s burial. Then a new bull was chosen, and the whole routine started over again.


9Egyptians Kept Tamed Hyenas As Pets


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Before we settled on dogs and cats, humanity experimented with domesticating some strange animals. 5,000 years ago, the Egyptians tried to domesticate the last one you’d expect: They kept hyenas as pets.

Based on the images left behind in the tombs of pharaohs, hyenas were used like hunting dogs in 2800 BC. Great Egyptian rulers would chase after animals with a mixed pack of hunting dogs and hyenas.

They were not, however, particularly sentimental about these pets. While the hyenas enjoyed domestic life, their owners were fattening them up for supper. Once a hyena got big enough, it was killed, stuffed full of food and spices, and fried up for a feast.

Hyenas don’t seem to have caught on as a pet. After a few generations, the Egyptians gave up on keeping savage, cackling animals around the home. For what was probably a very good reason, it was cats and dogs that stuck around.

8The First Pharaoh Of A United Egypt Died By A Hippo


Photo credit: Wikimedia

King Menes was the first Pharaoh to rule over both Upper and Lower Egypt. He lived around 3000 BC, and he was one of the great legendary figures of Egyptian history. He united the nations, ruled over them for 60 years, and then was dragged off and killed by a hippopotamus.

There aren’t really any other details to this story. The whole thing from the Egyptian historian Manetho, who simply wrote, “Menes was the first king. He was snatched and killed by a hippopotamus.” and left it at that as though he couldn’t imagine anyone having any follow-up questions about how, exactly, that went down.

Since this happened 5,000 years ago, it’s perfectly possible that it’s just a myth—but that’s even stranger. Menes was an Egyptian hero. If the story’s made-up, then that means that the Egyptians viewed being dragged off and killed by a hippo as an end fit for the greatest of kings.


7Mongooses Were Considered Sacred


Photo credit: Wikimedia

To the Egyptians, those furry little critters we call mongooses were among the most sacred of all animals. They had seen mongooses kill cobras, and they were impressed. They made bronze statues in honor of mongooses and wore mongoose amulets for protection.

People kept mongooses as pets, too. Some Egyptians have been found buried with the mummified remains of their pet mongoose. They even worked them into their mythology. The god Ra, according to one of their stories, would transform into a mongoose to fight evil.

The craziest story, though, was one they insisted really happened. The Egyptians claim that one legendary mongoose was spotted climbing into a sleeping crocodile’s open mouth. The little furry critter climbed into the reptile’s belly and then ate its way out.

6Killing A Cat Was Punishable By Death


Photo credit: Wikimedia

In Egypt, the penalty for killing a cat was death. This wasn’t just a law against cruelty to animals or sadistic cat-killings—all you had to do was accidentally run over a cat with your chariot and you’d be put to death.

There were no exceptions. One writer, Diodorus Siculus, recorded that the king of Egypt personally intervened to try to save a Roman man who accidentally killed a cat. His people, though, showed no mercy, even if it meant risking war with Rome. They formed a mob, lynched him, and left his dead body in the streets.

Their love of cats would create a catastrophe when, in 525 BC, they were invaded by Persia. The Persians painted the image of an Egyptian cat goddess on their shields and marched behind a line of dogs, sheep, cats and, in their words, “whatever other animals the Egyptians hold dear.”

The Egyptians were so afraid of accidentally hurting the cats that they surrendered to keep the cats safe. It didn’t do the animals much good. After winning the war, the king of Persia reportedly went around Egypt throwing cats in people’s faces.

5When A Cat Died, Families Went Into Mourning


Photo credit: Wikimedia

The death of cat was a tragedy. Losing your pet cat was treated more or less like losing your wife. The whole family would go into mourning, which, in Egypt, meant they had to shave their eyebrows off.

The dead cat’s body would be wrapped in fine linens and taken to be embalmed. There, its little body would be treated with cedar oil and spices to give a sweet smell. Then it would be mummified and buried in a catacomb along with a supply of milk, mice, and rats for the afterlife.

These cat tombs were massive. In one, 80,000 dead cats were found, every one carefully embalmed and cared for before being buried in its tomb.


4They Hunted With Trained Cheetahs


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Big cats, like lions, could be hunted—but the Egyptian definition of “big” was a bit different from ours. By Egyptian standards, a cheetah was considered a “smaller cat”—something harmless enough to keep around the home.

While the average Egyptian home probably wouldn’t have a pet cheetah, some of the pharaohs did. Ramses II, in particular, filled his palace with tamed lions and cheetahs. And he wasn’t the only one to keep cheetahs around. Ancient tomb paintings show Egyptian kings going out hunting with a tamed cheetah at their side.

3They Had A City For Sacred Crocodiles


Photo credit: Hedwig Storch

The Egyptian city Crocodilopolis was the religious center of an entire cult dedicated to a crocodile god named Sobek. Here, they kept a sacred crocodile, which they named Suchus. People from all over would come to make pilgrimages to see it.

The crocodile was covered in gold and jewelry, and he had a group of priests attending to him at all times. People would bring gifts of food for the crocodile, and these priests would pry open its mouth and force the crocodile to eat it. They’d even get it drunk. One priest would have to hold open the crocodile’s mouth while the other poured in wine.

When the crocodile died, it received a hero’s funeral. Its body would be wrapped up in fine linen bandages, and it was mummified, buried in the catacombs below. Then they’d pick a new crocodile to wear jewels and drink wine.

2They Thought Scarabs Were Magically Born In Dung


Photo credit: Wikimedia

You’ve probably seen pictures of Egyptians wearing those little scarab amulets. Those things were real, and they were just as widespread as they are in the movies. Everyone, from the rich to the poor, wore them. The Egyptians believed that scarabs had magic power. Movies, though, usually leave why they thought they were magic.

Scarab beetles like to roll balls of dung on the ground and bury them in burrows. The females then lay their eggs in the dung, and their young come out of it. Egyptians saw most of that process happen, but they missed the egg-laying part. They figured that scarabs didn’t have mothers at all. Scarabs, they believed, just magically emerged out of poop.

They even believed that the Sun was just a big version of those balls being pushed by a gigantic scarab god. Don’t read too deep into that, though. That doesn’t mean they thought the Sun was a big ball of scarab dung. They couldn’t have—they didn’t even realize that they were balls of dung.

It’s much grosser than that. They thought the beetles were rolling balls of their own sperm.

1Two Pharaohs Went To War Over A Pet Hippo


One of Egypt’s greatest wars was over the pharaoh’s pet hippos. Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao II kept a pool full of pet hippopotamuses, where he’d let his massive pets splash and play. This man loved his hippos. He was willing to die for them—in fact, he literally did just that.

At this time, Egypt was divided. The most powerful Egyptian kingdom was called Hyksos, which was ruled by Pharaoh Apopi. Being a lesser king, Seqenenre was required to pay tributes to Apopi. He could handle the humiliation of living under the tyranny of another man—until Apopi told him to get rid of his hippos.

Apopi sent a message to Seqenenre saying that his hippos were so loud he couldn’t sleep. Apopi lived 750 kilometers away, so this was just him being a jerk. Seqenenre, though, would not tolerate insults to his hippos. This, he declared, was grounds for war.

Seqenenre led his military into war against Apopi. He even died in combat,fighting for his right to a hippo pool. The war didn’t end there, though. His son kept it going. Two generations of kings fought for that hippo pool—and, in time, they won. By the end of the war, Egypt had unified once more, all because of one man’s love for his hippos.

10 Details That Make History’s Worst Tragedies Even Worse

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10 Details That Make History’s Worst Tragedies Even Worse



We like to imagine that we learn from our tragedies—that when the worst moment comes, people change their ways and start working together to make things right.

But sometimes, even after the catastrophe is over, the tragedy continues. People get swept up in the havoc and chaos of the moment and do things that make history’s worst moments even worse. And in the aftermath, some of our darkest moments are left with details too bleak to make it into the history books.

10Tiananmen Massacre
China Billed The Victims For The Bullets


Photo credit: The Atlantic

In 1989, after the death of the controversial figure Hu Yaobang, Chinese students marched out to Tiananmen Square and tried to force real change in China. They made a list of demands and led a hunger strike, hoping to bring an end to corruption and forge the first steps toward democracy.

All that came to an end, though, when the army marched in. Soldiers and tanks advanced on Tiananmen Square, right in the heart of Beijing. At least 300 people were gunned down by their own government, with some estimates putting that number as high as 2,700.

Usually, the story ends there—but there’s an extra little detail that makes it that much worse. After the massacre, some sources reported that the government billed the victims’ families for the cost of the bullets. The families of the protesters were charged the equivalent of 27 cents for each bullet used to kill their children.

The Chinese government has never admitted to it. But we know for a fact that they charged other dissidents for the bullets that killed them. There’s a lot of reason to believe that the reports are true that the government did it here, too.


9My Lai Massacre
Nixon Pardoned The Man Responsible


Photo credit: Ronald L. Haeberle

The worst incident in the Vietnam War was the My Lai Massacre. In 1968, American soldiers slaughtered more than 350 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam. They gang-raped women, mutilated children—and met absolutely no consequences.

Of everyone involved, only one soldier was actually charged: William Calley. The courts found Calley guilty of killing 22 innocent people and sentenced him to life in prison.

He never actually served the time, though. Instead, they just put him on house arrest, and he didn’t do that for very long. Calley hung around at home for three years and then got a full presidential pardon from Richard Nixon.

That doesn’t mean that everyone got off easy. One person suffered: Hugh Thompson. He was the man who reported the massacre and testified against the people who did it.

Thompson risked his life trying to save as many Vietnamese people as he could from his own men. He was rewarded for his bravery and heroism with death threats. People left mutilated animals on his porch each morning, and he suffered PTSD for the rest of his life.

A Nearby Town Got So Hot That People’s Heads Exploded


Photo credit: britishmuseum.org

The destruction of Pompeii is one of the most infamous natural disasters in history. An entire city was leveled under a sea of volcanic ash that killed thousands.

Compared to the people in Herculaneum, though, Pompeii got off easy. After the volcano erupted in AD 79, a witness described the scene: “A fearful black cloud, bent by forked and quivering bursts of flames, . . . sank down to the earth and covered the sea.”

That black cloud hit Herculaneum and covered the whole city. It was incredibly hot—over 500 degrees Celsius (932 °F). It burned the tops of buildings off completely and then touched on the people below. At such incredible temperatures, their teeth cracked, their skin burned off, and their bones turned black. Then their heads literally exploded.


Fallout Led To More Cancer And Car Crashes


Photo credit: Medical Daily

On September 11, 2001, when the planes flew into the twin towers in New York City, 2,996 innocent lives were brought to an end. It was a horrible moment and the worst terrorist attack on US soil. Over the next few years, though, that death toll would become even higher.

People were so afraid of flying after 9/11 that airline use went down by 20 percent. As a result, a lot more people were going greater distances in cars instead—which is a lot more dangerous. In the 12 months following the attacks, an estimated 1,595 more Americans died in car accidents because they were afraid to fly on planes.

Worse, though, was the increase in cancer. The twin towers were built with 400 tons of asbestos, which spread through the city when the towers collapsed. That cloud of asbestos affected an estimated 410,000 people, and cancer in New York City has spiked because of it.

The responders suffered the worst. About 70 percent of the recovery personnel who helped on that day now suffer from lung problems. Approximately 1,400 responders died in the 10 years after the tragedy. Another 1,140 responders have developed cancer since that tragic day.

6The Irish Potato Famine
Queen Victoria Forbade People From Donating Too Much


Photo via Wikimedia

When the people of Ireland started to starve from the Irish Potato Famine, Abdul Medjid Khan, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, wanted to help. In 1847, he prepared ships full of food and offered to send Ireland £10,000 to help them through the crisis.

British diplomats, though, ordered him not to. British royal protocol, they explained, said that no one should contribute more than Queen Victoria herself. At their order, the sultan reduced his donation to only £1,000 instead.

The Irish were thrilled with his donation anyway. They called the donation an “act of regal munificence” and said, “For the first time, a Mohammedan sovereign, representing multitudinous Islam populations, manifests spontaneously a warm sympathy with a Christian nation.”

The sultan, though, may have revealed a little regret at the compromise when he wrote back, “I would have done all in my power to relieve their wants.”

5Black Death
The Plague Led To A Jewish Genocide


Photo credit: Emile Schweitzer

The Black Death wiped out between 75 and 200 million people in the mid-1300s. It killed an estimated one-third of the population of Europe. It was a terrible tragedy—and like most tragedies, Europe dealt with it by blaming the Jews.

Many Europeans believed that the plague was a Jewish conspiracy. According to the story, the Jews had gone around the country poisoning wells to make good Christian people suffer. At first, it was a conspiracy theory. Then the Inquisition rounded up Jewish people and tortured them until they agreed to say they’d done it. Then it was, in the eyes of the people, a full-blown fact.

Mobs rose up and dragged people out into the streets. Jewish babies were pulled from their parents. Whole communities of people were tied to stakes and burned alive. In one case, more than 2,000 people were incinerated at once.

The Black Death, of course, was not a Jewish conspiracy. It affected Jews and Gentiles alike. That didn’t save anyone, though. In the city of Strasbourg, it became law that no Jew should enter the city for 100 years.


4Hurricane Katrina
A Neighboring Town Turned Away Refugees At Gunpoint


Photo credit: nola.com

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, countless people lost their homes. In a desperate bid for survival, people fled to neighboring towns for safety. The police of New Orleans helped them, pointing the way to the bridge that led to the town of Gretna.

But instead of a welcoming party, these people found a barricade on the bridge. Four police cruisers blocked the lanes, and eight officers were waiting for the refugees with shotguns. They yelled, “We don’t want another Superdome!” and chased the people off. According to some reports, the officers even stole the refugees’ food and water before chasing them away.

Arthur Lawson, the Gretna chief of police, didn’t even deny it. He confirmed that he sealed off the bridge, saying, “There was no place for them to come on our side.”

3Wounded Knee
20 Soldiers Were Given Medals Of Honor


Photo credit: Frederic Remington

In 1890, US troops attacked an innocent Lakota camp. Most of the people were unarmed, but the troops ran as many down as possible, slaughtering approximately 200 innocent men, women, and children. It was an outrage, and the men who did it were murderers. And for doing it, 20 of them were given Medals of Honor.

More people were given awards for the Wounded Knee Massacre than for most real battles. The government actually wanted to give out 25, but a man named General Miles fought it, calling it “an insult to the memory of the dead.” Even with his protests, they still handed out 20.

One man, Sergeant Toy, was cited “for bravery displayed while shooting hostile Indians.” In the full report, though, it was made clear that he shot Native Americans who were running away. Another man, Lieutenant Garlington, was awarded for blocking off the escape of fleeing victims. He forced them to hide a ravine, and Lieutenant Gresham was awarded for going into that ravine to kill the victims.

At least one Medal of Honor recipient seems to have felt the guilt of what he did. Two years later, Sergeant Loyd killed himself just a few days before the anniversary of the massacre. For his part at Wounded Knee, he had been given the Medal of Honor for “bravery.”

2The Great Fire Of London
The Town Hanged A Mentally Handicapped Man


Photo credit: greatfireoflondon.net

Robert Hubert was described as “not well in the mind” by everyone who knew him. He was very likely mentally handicapped or at least mentally ill. He could barely speak a word of English, and his limbs were constricted by palsy. But despite all that, he was hanged for firebombing London in 1666.

Hubert wasn’t actually in London when the fire happened. He showed up two days later and walked around repeating the word “Yes!” In 1666, that was enough evidence to a form a lynch mob, drag him off the streets, and pull him into the police station.

There, he was interrogated until he said “Yes!” that he’d been paid a shilling by a Frenchman to burn down London. He changed his story every time he told it, but they hanged him anyway.

Fifteen years later, the captain of the ship that took Hubert to London finally stepped forward and told everyone that Hubert wasn’t even in London during the Great Fire. By then, though, it was far too late.

1The Titanic
They Billed The Families Of The Victims


Photo credit: updatehunt.com

The White Star Line was nothing if not frugal. Due to a clause worked into their contracts, every employee aboard the ship was fired the second that the Titanic began to sink. The company would not, after all, pay wages for employees who were wasting their time drowning.

Afterward, the families of the dead were informed that they would have to pay the freight cost if they wanted their loved ones’ bodies. Most couldn’t afford it, of course, and so today, many of those who died have memorials instead of graves.

Things were far worse for the musicians. The band who heroically played on while the ship sank were completely abandoned. They were registered as independent contractors, which meant that White Star Line legally didn’t have to do anything for them. The other crew members’ families got survivor benefits, but the families of the band didn’t get a penny.

That doesn’t mean they got nothing, though. The families of the band were sent one memento: a bill for the cost of the uniforms.